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A porthole to your imagination - Futura Obscura by Jason Brammer
Futura Obscura features new work by Jason Brammer and opens at Jackson Junge Gallery on Fri., May 6. Brammer has built a series of time machines using "magic from the alley." The found parts are reworked into subterranean machine like wall pieces that have the appearance of being drenched up from the ocean bed. The rusty machines frame paintings of the ocean that take you on a journey.
The oceanic dreamscapes are like passageways into the past, the future, or the "Land of Narnia?" You take your pick. But they depict a dreamlike quality that is contemplative and ethereal. The seascapes are a recurrent motif in Brammer's work contrasting with the rusty texture of the time machines. The translucent effect is created with the use of airbrush technique mimicking the quality of old photographs. The simplicity of the seascapes in comparison to the rustic treatment of the machines reinforces this sense of passage.
The industrial parts of Chicago that we all have an affinity for, the rusty structures of the L-tracks, the monolithic bridges and the architectural structures that define our city, inspire Brammer. The graduated spheres are reiterated onto "magic alley way finds" such as old tabletops, abandoned couches and old cameras. Hinged and treated, the machines are faultless in their construction. In opening the porthole in "Inside the Thirst Machine" a plumbing system is revealed. The artist uses comic and literal analogies to title the work, yet they take you on a contemplative journey exploring the meaning of life. The Tom Jones song a "Lust for Life" springs to mind, he should have named it a "Thirst for life" inspired by Brammer. "Inside the Thirst Machine" one opens a porthole to reveal an orange glow. Is one peering into the heart of the machine or looking out onto a sunset? Brammer paints with illusion; his attention to detail is exquisite from painting the reflection of the orange glow from the porthole onto the wires to mixing up the two-dimensional and three-dimensional plane. In certain pieces, what appears to be three-dimensional is actually two-dimensional emphasizing the notion of illusion. One awaits the day when Brammer can make the sea move similar to the work of Patrick Hughes but airbrushed with greater skill.
The concertina constructions employed by Hughes are created three dimensionally and two dimensionally by Brammer, often reflecting one piece against another. The interplay between these illusory and realistic planes creates a heightened sense of movement in the exhibition as a whole - taking you on a fantastical journey into your imagination. In "Time Machine LI," illusion is employed to the highest degree creating rustic effects in perspective, building three-dimensional planes with tone and creating shadows that take you to the "Land of Narnia" - the central seascape motif.These sculptural paintings have a fantastical aesthetic reminiscent of sci-fi films and utilize found materials in a transformative way. Brammer becomes "an archaeologist reconstructing a vanished city from its scattered remains" (Krauss, 104: Formless 1997.)
The juxtaposition of the seascapes framed by the mechanical machines utilizes a Duchampian aesthetic playing with that that is real and that that is unreal. This friction between fantasy and reality carry the viewer on an imaginary journey, to the sublime city of our dreams. In the piece entitled "Time Machine LXIV, Internal Syphon," Brammer drapes a red velvet curtain in reality around the edge of the machine and inserts it into the painting. The painted area in "Time Machine LXIV" could be improved but Brammer utilizes the theatrical signifier to heighten the interplay between the real and the unreal. Brammer employs these symbols and references fluidly adding greater magic to our experience of the work -- that is ultimately sublime.
Futura Obscura runs through July 3 at The Jackson Junge Gallery. Artist talk is on Sat, June 4 at 2 p.m.*Photo courtesy of Chris Jackson